“We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”– James Madison, Primary Author of the U.S. Constitution, Fourth President of the United States of America
The question I asked myself today is if I really believe the Scriptures below concerning what Jesus and the New Testament say about the “second death”, what would I do differently today?
My answer was to seize the opportunities that present themselves to share the gospel with a fellow human being. And that is what I was able to do.
What would you do differently?
- Revelation 20:14- “And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
- Revelation 21:8 – “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murders and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
- Revelation 2:11 – “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches, He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.
- Revelation 20:6 -“Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
- Matthew 10:28 – Jesus says: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
- John 3:16 – Jesus says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. “
- (“Perish” means to experience the second death.)
- Romans 5: 8-10 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
- (“the wrath of God” – the second death is the ultimate expression of His just wrath.)
- Ephesians 2:7-9 – “…in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…”
If you possess this “gift” of salvation, please find a way to share it with the hopeless and dying souls all around us that are unknowingly headed to a second death.
Be faithful to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,
(The following is written by four Chinese pastors from the underground church in Communist China. They have or are experiencing persecution from the Communist China government simply because they are born again Christians. They have spent a combined total of 47 years in prison for their faith in Jesus Christ. The source of the article is omitted due to security issues. Carl)
“In recent years—especially since the start of the Covid pandemic—many believers around the world have contacted us to ask if we can share insights or do interviews into how Christians can survive persecution, as they see the storm clouds of persecution gathering on the horizon in their countries.
First, we point out that we have written more than a dozen books on the Church in China, each containing principles and testimonies of how God has not only helped His children survive six decades of persecution, but has caused them to thrive, so that China is still experiencing the greatest revival in Christian history.
When we try to help church leaders and believers in the West prepare for persecution, after more dialogue it usually emerges that they are not really looking for straight answers. Often, what people mean when they ask these questions is: “How can we survive persecution in our current church structures, so we don’t have to suffer or change?”
The answer to this is… you cannot!
True, physical persecution (e.g. when Christians are being arrested, beaten, imprisoned, or even killed) will not leave most current church structures intact. It will completely dismantle them!
Gone will be the denominations, emphasis on church buildings, Reverends, division between “clergy” and other believers, and all kinds of church traditions and outward imagery that are not found in Scripture. They will be swept away.
This pattern is what happened when persecution was ramped up against believers in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and other countries we work in.
We don’t know if severe persecution is coming to your part of the world soon, but we must be prepared. The Lord Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9), while the Apostle Paul told Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
We would like to conclude by sharing five important truths about persecution, which we hope will bring encouragement and focus to our fellow believers:
- God is always in control! If He allows persecution to come, it’s for the good of His kingdom. In China, believers only experienced the full joy of intimacy with Jesus when they were in the furnace of affliction and after they came out the other side.
- Persecution is the last thing our flesh desires, but our faith must rest on the fact that the Lord Jesus will not let us down, and He will never leave nor forsake us. Persecution cannot destroy our relationship with Him: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35).
- Importantly, when intense hardship comes, we shouldn’t see only the hand of Satan in persecution. In China, God’s people looked back later and realized that it was actually the Lord Jesus overseeing the entire process out of love for His children. He is zealous to remove the dead religious structures that trap people in bondage and keep millions of unbelievers from being able to see the true Gospel.
- Persecution is a pruning process, when the Holy Spirit removes half-hearted believers from among the flock. In China, when fierce persecution first broke out in the 1950s, around two-thirds of churchgoers fell away from the faith. The Lord Jesus told us this would occur: “When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, they quickly fall away” (Mark 4:17). Friends, if two-thirds of Chinese Christians fell away at the onset of persecution, how might things be in your part of the world?
- For those who do not give up, persecution often brings great revival. In China, the number of Christians has grown from less than one million to over 100 million after 60 years of brutal Communist persecution! All glory to God. When that realization dawned on believers, many learned not only to grimly endure persecution, but to embrace it as a special blessing from God.
May God Almighty continue to bless and multiply His church in Communist China. May the church in the West return to its New Testament roots before the fires of persecution makes it return to that unchanging guidance He has given us! Carl
(Blogger note: I have been doing research on the origin of infant baptism and found this article by Francesco Arduini published in the Biblical Archaeology Review shed light on how the practice may have originated though it was not practiced in the New Testament. I share it with you for your consideration. May God lead you in His ways! Carl)
Pandemics can influence and radically alter habits and practices of entire populations. Billions of people have personally tested this phenomenon during the current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. History knows numerous signs of behavioral practice changes that can be attributed to pandemics, such as the bubonic plague that devastated medieval Europe in the mid-14th century, upsetting many sectors of civil life, or the pestilence that ravaged the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Justinian (mid-sixth century C.E.), even forcing the Goths and the Byzantines to suspend the war fought on the Apennine Peninsula.
Like other catastrophes, pandemics can be critical and polarizing events that generate societal changes beyond the immediate, health-centered issues. Some historical pandemics also had considerable religious consequences: They fueled religious radicalism, encouraged reform movements, and inspired theological discourse. One ancient pandemic even helped to establish the Christian rite of baptism administered to little children and infants—a practice not attested in early Christian communities until the late second century.1
Sometime during 165 C.E., under Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180), the Roman Empire was struck by the first documented devastating outbreak of an infectious disease.a Known as the Antonine Plague, it probably was the first appearance of smallpox in the Mediterranean and Europe. The origin of this pandemic was probably in the city of Seleucia, near present-day Baghdad. According to the most widely accepted hypothesis, the Roman soldiers sent to invade Parthia returned in 165, spreading the plague all the way back to Rome, where, according to some modern estimates, smallpox at its apex killed approximately 5,000 people per day.
Mortality was so high it was not unusual to see caravans of fully loaded chariots carrying dead bodies from cities. The scourge reportedly wiped out more than 90 percent of the population in limited areas of Egypt and probably more than 20 percent of the Roman Empire’s total population.2
Christians likely managed to face and overcome the epidemic with greater success than pagans. It can be assumed that the organization of the Christian communities and the care that individual members showed toward the sick may have reduced their mortality rate. However, smallpox tends to cause a high mortality among children, and Christians certainly were not exempt.
The pandemic generated a religious response in the highest echelons of Roman society. Marcus Aurelius restored temples and shrines, summoned priests, and called for every form of prayer to calm the divine anger that he believed was at the origin of the plague. These unusual religious manifestations probably began around 166.3
So what kind of impact did the Antonine Plague have on Christian communities?
One might imagine that the sense of fear and impotence felt by the population along with the revival of religious sensitivities may have contributed to the growth and rapid spread of Christianity throughout the empire.b However, it is plausible that Christian communities were first reorganized internally, including on a theological level.
There hasn’t ever been a Christian community that, at any time, would not request baptism for those who wanted to be part of it. The practice of the rite generated heated debate in the 1950s and 1960s concerning the legitimacy of administering baptism to children and infants. If today the tone of the debate has somewhat dampened, it is due more to a certain fatigue than to a consensus.
The first mention of child baptism comes from the bishop Irenaeus and dates to c. 180 C.E. (Adversus haereses 2.22.4). But we must wait another 20 years to find a clear statement on the baptism of children, put in writing by the prolific author Tertullian, in c. 200 C.E. (De baptismo 18.1.4–5). Tertullian opposed baptizing children, who do not fully understand the significance of the rite. However, it is equally clear that by the end of the second century child baptism was already a reality. About 15 years later, the theologian Hippolytus in his Apostolic Tradition provides a palpable liturgical formulation of the baptism of children (21).
To what factor do we owe the rapid establishment of this habit within the Christian community between 180 and 200 C.E.? The growing number of those who were born into Christian families (as opposed to adult converts) meant an increasing presence of children within the Christian community. When we consider the high infant mortality rate, we can see how an emergency practice of administering the salvific (i.e. leading to salvation) baptism to infants eventually became a normal practice—even more so under the circumstances of a cruel pandemic. Once the emergency of the epidemic was over, in 180 C.E., Irenaeus and other Christian theologians developed a theology of infant baptism and spread the teaching in the following 20 years, so much so that Tertullian, at the dawn of the third century, speaks of it as a commonly accepted practice.
The problem with this scenario is that the connection between the beginnings of infant baptism and the Antonine Plague is purely hypothetical, because no literary source explicitly expresses it. Intriguingly, not only is the link between the plague and infant baptism missing, but also any type of generic mention of the plague in the writings of contemporary Christian authors. We can assume that in the middle of the Antonine Plague every learned debate was silenced by the emergency of the epidemic. The plausible demands for seriously ill children by their Christian parents, who wanted to ensure their salvation through baptism, needed immediate action. It was only when the calamity ended that the first references to the baptism of children began to appear, while the silence of the sources on the plague itself persisted.
So why this silence even after 180 C.E.?
The majority pagan population considered the epidemic a sign of the gods’ disfavor, putting the blame on Christians. Christianity, still living in the imminence of Christ’s return, interpreted this event in a similar manner—as God’s disapproval of the world’s immorality, despite Christians’ presence. The Antonine Plague was the first devastating demographic catastrophe that struck the church. Apologists had to face a sort of theological disorientation: how to justify this “divine punishment.” Is it possible that this disorientation resulted in the puzzling silence of literary sources?
Throughout the subapostolic period, there is no explicit reference to the baptism of children. Every time the topic is tackled, children are considered pure regardless. This was orthodoxy up to the time of the Christian theologian Justin (in 150 C.E.), who was the last apologist to write about baptism before the Antonine Plague struck the Roman Empire (First Apology 61.9–10). Thirty years later, with Irenaeus, the situation seems to have changed, and, after 20 more years, we learn from Tertullian that the practice of infant baptism was implemented unreservedly.
Between 150 and 180 C.E. something must have happened that would justify such an important and unprecedented change. The Antonine Plague fits perfectly in the history of baptismal theology, presenting itself as a crucial event on the world stage.
FRANCESCO ARDUINI is an author and independent researcher in biblical studies and the history of Christianity. He wrote the book Il battesimo dei bambini (2010).
Following are testimonies from the Wa people of northern Myanmar concerning being animists and their conversion to evangelical Christianity. Reading on the internet about animists, some writers would lead you to believe that being an animist is a positive thing. The Christian Wa people would beg to differ as the following testimonies reveal:
“My name is Khuat, and I am a 53-year-old pastor.
My parents were animists who offered sacrifices
to the spirits every month, and our family was
plunged into poverty and bondage to cruel demons.
In 2001 I heard of God’s love and forgiveness, and I
committed my life to Jesus. We smashed all our
idols and the Lord blessed us in every way. I was
eager to read the Bible, but for years I could not
find even one for sale. Now you have brought many
Bibles to us, and we are overwhelmed with joy.
Thank you! You have done the greatest thing possible.
“My name is Nyi. Everyone in my family lived in fear
of the spirits for generations. We did all we could to
appease them, but in return we got death and suffering. My mother died when I was a baby, and my
father died when I was 8. Then when I was 13 my
brother died and there was no one to take care of
me. I started using drugs, and at my lowest point a
Christian told me about Jesus, and He changed my
life! I even graduated from Bible school, and now I
serve my Wa people, getting as many saved as I can.
The Word of God you gave us is so precious!“
“My name is Moe, and I am 19 years old. My family were animists, so we served the spirits and
had never heard about Jesus. My friend told me
the Good News, and I went to church with her.
The pastor gave me a Bible and I brought it home,
but my father was the village shaman so he didn’t
let me read the Bible. One day my mother fell ill,
and my father spent all our money to try to make
her well. He heard that Jesus could heal the sick,
so he let her go to the church with me. She was
healed that day, and now my whole family are
Christians! Thank you for the wonderful Bibles
you freely gave us.”
The anthropologist who say that these tribes should be left alone and not evangelized are deceived themselves by the powers of darkness and do not have the spiritual discernment to understand the great spiritual and physical deception that these people suffer under.
Lord Jesus understood it, that is why He said to go into all the earth and preach the gospel and set the captives (of the demons) free!
Has He set you free from the sins or idols that bind you up?
(The Bibles they refer to were printed and donated by the supporters of Asia Harvest.)
“If there be an honest man, who desires to love God and fear Jesus Christ, who will neither slander, nor swear, nor lie, nor commit adultery, nor kill, nor steal, nor avenge himself on his enemies, they presently say of such a one he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death.”
This quote comes from an ancient writing (1100 AD) of the Waldenses entitled the Nobla Leycon (Noble Lesson). The Waldenses are a very ancient branch of the True Church that left the “wreck of primitive Christianity” (Church of Rome) in the 800s AD.
J.A. Wylie in his The History of The Waldenses states, “Rome manifestly was the schismatic, she it was that had abandoned what was once the common faith of Christendom, leaving by that step to all who remained on the old ground the indisputably valid title of the True Church.”
They are today the largest Protestant faith in Italy though the past popes had attempted to exterminate them for over 600 years. This persecution is what the end of the statement “he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death” is referring to.
But enough history!
If I were to be dragged before the Inquisition today, would my conduct and speech produce enough evidence to convict me of being a True Christian?
The Waldenses way of life and speech revealed that they were very different from the contemporary culture they lived in. Can you and I say that about our conduct today? Or do we just say one thing at church and just blend in with the wicked and immoral culture that surrounds us the rest of the time, laughing at the same dirty jokes, looking at the same filthy entertainment, hating and being unforgiving, our cruel and wicked speech revealing our cruel and wicked inner man instead of a Holy Spirit controlled new man in Christ?
The apostle Paul believed in examining yourself to make sure your following Christ’s example in conduct/teaching and not your religious, fleshly, sin nature. That is why he told Timothy to “pay close attention to yourself” (I Timothy 4:16). We should heed his instructions.
“Wherefore, my beloved ones, as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry to its ultimate conclusion [likeness to the Lord Jesus] your own salvation with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling, for God is the One who is constantly putting forth His energy in you, both in the form of your being desirous of and of your doing His good pleasure.” (Paul writing to the Philippians in 2:13)
Amazing! Today. All day today. Everyday. God is CONSTANTLY releasing His energy into our lives — in our decisions, in our battles, in our relationships, in our work, in our ministry, in our idle time, in our busy time, in our trial, in our victory, in our suffering, in our joy, in our sickness, in our vigor, in everything — for the purpose of bringing OUR salvation to it’s ultimate conclusion: more likeness to the Lord Jesus….NOW, not when we get to heaven, NOW, while we live on earth, NOW, while we can still make an eternal difference in our family, our friend’s lives, and lives of others. NOW, before I die and I am ashamed to stand before Him at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
What an awesome God we serve. What provisions He has made for His children. How He is committed to His Purpose for you and me!
Enjoy walking with God today!
“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, ….” (II Peter 2:14)
How does keeping of the Old Testament Law and walking in New Testament grace compare?
Do this and live, the Old Testament Law demands, but gives neither feet or hands.
A better word the Gospel brings. It bids me fly and gives me wings.
Born again believers get their “wings” by understanding the truths found in Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter six through eight. Listen to what Apostle Peter said about these truths in II Peter 1: 3-4 (Wuest Expanded Translation):
“Seeing that all things to us His divine power has generously given, the things which pertain to life and godliness, through the experiential knowledge [which the believer has] of the One who called us [into salvation] by means of His own glory and virtue, by means of which [glory and virtue] there have been generously given to us the precious and exceedingly great promises in order that through these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped by flight the corruption which is in the world in the sphere of passionate carvings.” [emphasis mine]
I hope you have your “wings” mentally on today. Have a blessed day walking in the Spirit!
- I found this note while reading Luke 16: 13-15 the other day. As born again believers, the Lord Jesus Christ is to be “Lord” of our lives. The world system, which is controlled by Satan, is continually trying to impose its value system on us. In James 4:4 the Bible tells us that friendship with the world is hostility toward God. He compares it to a wife or husband having an affair thereby being an adulteress. James goes on to say that he who wishes to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God.
Sometimes we are so entangled in the affairs of the world that we do not recognize it for what it is. The kingdom of the enemy of God. May the Holy Spirit show us today if we are in an adulterous affair with some aspect of the world.
In closing, I share Luke 6:46 with you. The scripture that God used to rip the deception off our minds and show us we were lost and bound for hell. The Lord Jesus said “Why do you call me Lord Lord and do not do what I say?
Pay Close Attention To Yourself
Knowing More To See Him More
“Do not get knowledge for knowledge sake but so you can see and love to a greater degree the Lord Jesus Christ.” Kenneth Wuest
The Bible has a lot to say about gaining knowledge and about wisdom, how to use the knowledge you obtain. It also warns that knowledge can make you prideful.
“Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”
Therefore, our desire in gaining biblical knowledge should be to gain a clearer picture of the Lord Jesus Christ so we can love Him more. Since He said, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me;…” (John 14: 21a), loving Him more means we will be more diligent in our obedience. That is how the “love of God” is manifested in our life. Words play a part but actions speak a lot louder.
We need to realize there are millions of people, right here in the U.S., that have never mentally “seen” Jesus. They have no Bible knowledge and have no concept of what Jesus looks like.
Lets put our Bible knowledge to use today and let someone “see” Jesus in us through our obedience to Him. It may be their first time to “see” the Lord Jesus.
Pay Close Attention to Yourself…. (Paul to Timothy)
“For he who desires to be loving life and to see good days, let him stop the natural tendency of his tongue towards evil, and the natural tendency of his lips to the end that they speak no craftiness, but let him rather at once and once for all turn away from evil and let him do good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, because the Lord’s eyes are directed in a favorable attitude towards the righteous, and His ears are inclined into their petitions, but the Lord’s face is against those who practice evil things.” (I Peter 3: 10-12 quoting Psalm 34: 12-13) (Wuest Fuller Translation)
A Prayer: Father God I present myself to You as one alive from the dead and the members of my body as instruments of righteousness. Forgive me where I have sinned with my mouth. Thank you for your Spirit which gives me the desire and power to obey your Word. By your power I purpose to glorify the Lord Jesus today and everyday with my words and actions. Thank you my old sinful nature will not be master over me because of what You and the Lord Jesus have accomplished and my faith in what you have done. In Jesus’ Mighty Name. Amen
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 2:11-14; 3:3-7)
Praise Almighty God for His grace that has appeared to us! Bless His Holy and Righteous Name. May we all respond fully to the teaching of His Spirit contained in that ancient book, the Bible.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:9).
“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:26-28).
“The Wa were headhunters. Just once a year, in the planting season, Wa tribesmen felt compelled by bloodthirsty spirits to plant human heads in their fields along with their seeds—just to ensure a good crop. Neighboring tribes always wanted to leave for vacation when the Wa were planting their crops, but unfortunately that was when they had to plant their crops too.
A benign influence, however, was at work within the folk religion of the Wa people. From time-to-time prophets of the true God, whom the Wa called Siyeh, arose to condemn headhunting and spirit-appeasement! One such prophet, Pu Chan, appeared during the 1880s. He persuaded several thousand Wa tribesmen to abandon headhunting and spirit worship on the grounds that the true God was about to send a long-awaited white brother with a copy of the lost book. If he came to the Wa territory and heard that the Wa were practicing evil things, he might think them unworthy of the true God’s book and turn away again! If that happened, Pu Chan warned, surely the Wa would never get another chance to have the lost book restored to them.
One morning Pu Chan saddled a pony. ‘Follow this pony,’ he said to some of his disciples. ‘Siyeh told me last night that the white brother has finally come near! Siyeh will cause this pony to lead you to him. While Pu Chan’s disciples gaped in astonishment, the pony started walking. Expecting the pony to stop at the nearest stream, they followed it.”
Two hundred miles away, an American missionary from Nebraska, William Young, had recently set up base in the town of Kengtung. One day Young went to the marketplace to preach among the people, and he noticed strangely garbed men gravitating toward him out of the throng in the market.
They were not Wa, but were men from the neighboring Lahu tribe, who God chose to receive the Gospel first. The Lahu had also been waiting for a white man to come with a lost book that would reconnect them to the true God, whom they called Gwi’sha in their language. Richardson continues the story:
“They stared incredulously at the missionary’s white face, the interior of the book in his hand, and listened to his description of the laws of God contained in that book. Then, in an outburst of powerful emotion, the Lahu pleaded with Young to follow them up into the mountains. ‘We as a people have been waiting for you for centuries,’ they explained. ‘We even have meeting houses built in some of our villages in readiness for your coming.’
[Pu Chan above and William Young below. Our thanks to Marcus Young, the grandson of William, for providing these two precious photos.]
Some of the men showed him bracelets of coarse rope hanging like manacles from their wrists. ‘We have worn ropes like these since time immemorial. They symbolize our bondage to evil spirits. You alone, as the messenger of Gwi’sha, may cut these manacles from our wrists—but only after you have brought the lost book of Gwi’sha to our very hearths!’
Nearly speechless with awe, Young went with them. Tens of thousands of Lahu became Christians, and it was at that stage that Pu Chan saddled his pony (200 miles away in Wa territory) and told his Wa disciples to follow it to the missing book and the messenger of the True God. When the pony finally arrived at the home of William Young, the Wa asked him: ‘Have you brought the book of God?’ Young nodded. The men, overcome with emotion, fell at his feet and blurted out, ‘This pony is saddled especially for you. Our people are all waiting. Fetch the book! We must be on our way!”
Thousands of Wa heard the Gospel from both the Young family and the new Lahu Christians. They repented of their sins and gave their lives to Jesus Christ. Young’s son, Vincent, later translated the New Testament into Wa.
During much of the 20th century, many Wa people continued to outwardly follow Christ, but their faith generally slipped into dead formalism. A vibrant, life-giving revival was greatly needed among the Wa, lest the amazing breakthroughs of the past would go to waste.
One reason for the spiritual decline among the Wa was the problem with their Bible. Because of their widespread locations and multiple dialects, only a fraction of Wa were able to understand the dialect the Bible was available in.
Some years ago, a Wa Bible committee was set up to address this problem, and a new translation was launched in a common vernacular that many more Wa people could understand.
Asia Harvest has been greatly blessed to provide more than 80,000 new Wa Bibles, free of charge, through our Asian Bible Fund. There are many requests for more, and we invite you to prayerfully consider supporting this strategic endeavor.
Please pray for the Wa and the other tribes in Myanmar and give if you can to this worthwhile project. Carl
The very same power which raised Christ is waiting to raise the drunkard from his drunkenness, to raise the thief from his dishonesty, to raise the Pharisee from his self-righteousness, to raise the Sadducee from his unbelief.
– C.H. Spurgeon
From the Berean Call
A friend recently told me of a friend of theirs who had a lady friend who was shocked to hear that Lord Jesus had brothers when He was living on earth. Having been raised Roman Catholic, she stated that she had never heard this before and was going to have to check this out.
To elevate Mary, the earthly, blessed mother of Jesus, to an unscriptural position she never sought, nor God ever intended for her to assume, men had to do away with His brothers so they could create doctrine that makes Mary a perpetual virgin, therefore, she could not have any children after Jesus.
But the New Testament read with simple faith and not with doctrinal blinders imposed by the ‘church’, plainly tells us in the following scriptures that Jesus had half-brothers and half-sisters: Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; Acts 1:14 and Galatians 1:19.
In Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 the brothers are even named: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas.
James wrote the book of James in the New Testament and was believed by the apostle Paul to be the leader or bishop of the church in Jerusalem when he visited. Judas wrote the book of Jude in the New Testament. Simon was the later bishop of the Jerusalem church. All three were martyred for their faith in their resurrected half-brother, Jesus.
They were not cousins or children from Jospeh’s previous marriage. The Greek word used in these New Testament scriptures for ‘brother’ is adelphos meaning “from womb”. The Greek word cousin is anepsios signifying cousin.
So according to the New Testament in the Bible, Mary and Joseph had a large, happy family of at least seven children, maybe more if there were more than two sisters.
May you and your family be happy and fulfilled as they follow the true Jesus of the Bible.
Studying the sobering results of Dr. George Barna’s research, “Millennials in America,” I felt fear for the future of the largest generation in our history.
I listened intently as he shared some of his key findings. Here are some of the startling discoveries:
- Almost one-half of young adults prefer socialism to capitalism.
- A foundation of absolute truth has been replaced by relativism with feelings and friends forming one’s worldview.
- 9 of 10 are syncretists picking a mixture of beliefs from different religions so as not to appear “intolerant.”
- Being “born again” doesn’t result from repentance and faith in Christ’s sacrificial, substitutionary death and resurrection but refers to being a good person, doing good deeds to merit one’s salvation.
- Only 28% believe the Bible is the Word of God.
- The overwhelming majority reject the concept of an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator and do not accept the biblical/historical view of scripture, sin, and salvation.
Similar times in Scripture
Two portions of scripture come to mind when the younger generation drifted dramatically from God.
“That entire generation passed away, and after them grew up a generation who did not know the Lord or the deeds that He had done …” (Judges 2:10).
“Moreover, in those days I also saw Jews who had married the women of Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children spoke in the language of Ashdod, yet none of them could recognize the language of the Jews” (Neh.13:23-24).
Upon assessing the situation in his day, Nehemiah was definitely not complacent in confronting some of them with righteous anger. He “cursed” … “beat”… and “plucked out the hair”… of those responsible for “doing all this great evil who are behaving unfaithfully against our God …” (Neh.13:25-7).
Scripture does not rejoice over Nehemiah’s actions but does record them! In our day of comfortable, compromising and cowardly Christianity, it’s refreshing to see a leader not being silent and submitting to the fear of man.
A defining moment in my life
Years ago when Obama and LGBTQ activists were aggressively pushing for gay marriage, I partnered with a professional videographer on a biblical instructional video entitled “Is Gay OK?” From a Biblically informed worldview, it addressed questions like “Is a person born gay? Can someone be a Christian and practice homosexuality? Is same-sex marriage allowed by God?”
I was subsequently let go by the church where I served in leadership for five years being told by the leader to “just go and don’t come back.” Previously he’d warned me in no uncertain terms that to continue the project was a “deal-breaker” and “we don’t want to go there because we could incur death threats.”
A primary reason I worked on the resource video was to help rescue millennials being bombarded by an avalanche of deceitful propaganda on this and other cultural hot button issues. Because many pastors decided to be “seeker sensitive” and play it safe, steering clear of controversy, we now have a generation like in the time of Judges. “We don’t get into areas like abortion, living together, homosexuality, transgender stuff, voting, elections … you know, anything political.”
More sobering data
Apart from deception assaulting the younger generation in the area of morality, Dr. Barna’s research reveals chilling beliefs in the realm of spirituality:
- Two out of three millennials believe they are “Christians,” yet their responses indicate they are not true disciples following Jesus as Lord.
- Three out of four believe all religious faiths are of equal value.
- 56% reject the existence of absolute truth.
- A scant 4% of millennials hold to a biblical worldview regarding God, life, and morality.
- Only one in four millennials believe they can trust Christian pastors.
- A high percentage identify themselves as “DONTS” meaning they don’t know or even care if God exists.
Inspiration from 5 past divine interventions
Before anyone succumbs to cynicism and pessimism concerning the future of the millennial generation, let’s remind ourselves of God’s sovereign intervention in similar seasons of history where outpourings of His Spirit broke through the darkness.UnmuteAdvanced SettingsFullscreenPauseUp Next
•First Great Awakening. I’ve been to Northampton, Massachusetts, where Jonathan Edwards helped ignite God’s miraculous intervention in the darkest period of the 1700s that resulted in unbelievable societal transformation.
• Azusa Street Revival. I’ve been to Bonnie Brae Street with revivalist Lou Engle where at the turn of the 20th century a handful of people gathered and soon God poured out His Spirit in an unprecedented way in Los Angeles birthing the Pentecostal movement that today has reached almost a half billion people worldwide!
•The Jesus movement. In one of the most turbulent times in America’s history, God rescued me from the 60s “Lost Souls” rock band and swept me into a revolutionary youth-centered Jesus revolution that saw millions of sons and daughters converted and changed by the power of the living God. I joined with Dr. Michael Brown, Mike Bickle, Greg Laurie, Keith Green and others in a Heaven-sent move of God that birthed Calvary Chapel, The Vineyard, contemporary Christian music and a cover story on Time magazine!
•Brownsville Revival. Revival broke out in Pensacola, Florida, and providentially God planted me in the midst of a divinely orchestrated move of His Spirit where in a five-year period 2 million came from across the world and 200,000 were converted to the glory of God!
7 Common denominators
Dr. George Barna’s excellent research revealed sobering data. It’s our time to seize the opportunity, remembering God’s sovereignty and the church’s responsibility. Historically we find common denominators to guide us.
1. Passionate and prevailing prayer.
2. Genuine repentance and living lives of happy holiness.
3. Freedom for the Holy Spirit to move in spontaneity under godly oversight.
4. Rekindling lifestyle evangelism and consistent, compassionate outreach to the lost and those suffering in poverty, persecution, and exploitation.
5. Rediscovering the passionate preaching of the Word of God.
6. Restoring a healthy fear of the Lord through a revelation of divine judgment and experience of Holy Spirit conviction.
7. Most importantly, rekindling the fire of first love zeal and simple devotion to Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Here’s the deal: “In the last days it shall be, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).
The time has come — let’s respond and see revival come.
Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author and cultural commentator with over 40 years of trusted ministry experience. His passion is to bring perspective, analysis and insight from a biblical worldview. He loves people and loves awakening them to today’s cultural realities and the responses needed for the bride of Christ—His church—to become influential in all spheres of life once again. He is also a public policy advisor with Liberty Counsel.
Source: Christian Post
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith… (James 1:5-6a)
Who does not need wisdom? We all do! Wisdom for dealing with issues involving children, grandchildren, sports, career, relationships, health, spouse, siblings, end of life, our nation, the church and life in general.
Jesus’ half-brother James, author of the quote above, was not a disciple of Jesus. The New Testament plainly tells us that. He only realized that his older brother was the promised Messiah and Savior when Jesus revealed Himself to James, and probably His other siblings, after He was resurrected. Can you imagine the shock of seeing his dead brother alive in a glorified, resurrected body? Could you imagine what it would be like to realize your older sibling was God?
James had a lot to ponder after that encounter. As James and his brothers waited in the upper room with the other disciples for the promise of the Father to be poured out at Pentecost, I would imagine they were all praying for wisdom. Therefore, when he tells us to ask for wisdom he speaks from experience.
An amplified version could read, “If anyone falls short of wisdom let him keep asking of God, who has come along side you as the Holy Spirit to help you and gives to all graciously and generously without throwing your past mistakes into your teeth or up in your face. But he must ask believing in God’s beneficent activity and have a personal reliance on Him …”
James tells us not to just ask once but to keep on asking for wisdom from the true God that has come along side us to lead us into all truth, not a distant and uncaring God. Knowing that He is not going to reproach us by reminding us of our past mistakes and failures but will graciously and generously give us the wisdom that we request and need, maybe desperately need.
The only requirement is that we believe that He is the Only One that is truly Good and produces Good, performing acts of kindness and charity for those who rely on Him as their God.
James’ half-brother and Lord, Jesus, said it this way,
Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking and you will find; keep knocking, and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11)
If you need wisdom, keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking. Our Father God has promised to answer.
“Trials rightly faced are harmless, but wrongly met become temptations to sin.” (A.T. Robertson)
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
The apostle Peter exhorts those in the dispersion along the same line:
“ In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6-7)
James says that though we may be surrounded by trials, let our joy be whole or unmixed, not just “some joy” mixed with grief. I must realize that the very foundation of my religion, my faith in what God has done through His Son Jesus, will be tested by the devil using circumstances, accusations, condemnation, people of other faiths or no faith (communism) and people, some close to me and some unknown.
We are all are in need of “endurance” or “patience” that James says these trials will produce in our lives IF we allow it. Robertson says the original Greek word means “remaining under, staying power”, that under the pressure of trials you will have the ability to stay faithful to Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus, in Revelation 2:10 tells the believers in Smyrna (modern day Turkey),
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
We in North America or Europe, read this and go ho hum, but this is a daily reality for many of our brothers and sisters in communist Red China, Vietnam, North Korea and other countries ruled by communism. It is also a daily reality in countries ruled by Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other false religions.
Religious persecution is coming to the United States, Europe, Canada and other currently free countries. Are you ready? Have you made up your mind? Are your children and grandchildren ready?
May no trial, person or set of circumstances cause us to deny our Savior today or ever. May our faith in Jesus and God the Father be the most precious thing in our life… so much so it is worth dying for. Tens of millions died for their faith during the Inquisition, under the Romans, and under communism in the 20th century and today.
May you walk in “hupomonen”….staying power. Holy Ghost empowered staying power!
What do Saul of Tarsus, Martin Luther, and three former Roman Catholic priests all have in common? These devout religious leaders all came to discover God’s righteousness.
There is a huge chasm between God’s righteousness and man’s righteousness. So which of those two things makes a person a child of God and an heir of eternal life in Heaven? (Romans 8:17).
God’s righteousness is always perfect, whereas man’s righteousness is always imperfect. God’s righteousness can cover your sins and make you right with God. Man’s righteousness leaves a person separated from God forever.
Saul of Tarsus “was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of his own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers” (Galatians 1:14). After his conversion, Saul became the Apostle Paul who no longer relied upon his own righteousness to be right with God. Zeal for religious traditions is very different than zeal for the Gospel.
Prior to his conversion, Saul was “a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless” (Philippians 3:5,6). He came to learn the massive difference between legalistic righteousness and God’s righteousness.
Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk who discovered the same thing 500 years ago. Luther was constantly striving to save his soul. He endured many self-inflicted punishments in his efforts to atone for his sins and be accepted by God. Luther felt he had to work his way to Heaven by his own righteousness.
Thankfully, God spoke to Luther through the Gospel, and particularly this passage: “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). In other words, the righteousness of God is applied to your soul when you trust Jesus as your Savior. The Apostle Paul wrote, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22).
Joseph Tremblay was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1924. He was ordained a priest in Rome, Italy, and was sent to Bolivia, Chile, where he served for 13 years. He said, “My theology has taught me that salvation is by works and sacrifices. My theology gives me no assurance of salvation; the Bible offers me that assurance. I had been trying to save myself on my works. I was pushed to do good works to merit my salvation.”
While serving as a Catholic priest, Tremblay was relying upon human righteousness. But when he placed his faith in the Gospel promises found in Scripture, he discovered God’s righteousness. The righteousness of man cannot save a single soul. Even if you combined the good works of one million religious people, it would not provide enough righteousness to prevent one lost soul from going to Hell.
Bartholomew F. Brewer was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood in Washington, D.C. He eventually served as a priest in San Diego, California, and entered the Navy as a Roman Catholic chaplain. He left the Catholic Church, got married, and discovered God’s righteousness through conversations with his wife and other Christians.
Brewer said, “I finally understood that I had been relying on my own righteousness and religious efforts and not upon the completed and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic religion had never taught me that our own righteousness is fleshly and not acceptable to God, nor that we need to trust in Christ’s righteousness alone … during all those years of monastic life I had relied on the sacraments of Rome to give me grace to save me.”
“The completed and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” What a wonderful historical fact and beautiful spiritual absolute! When you place your faith in what Jesus completed on the cross, you are justified, redeemed, born again, saved and forgiven. When Martin Luther finally placed his faith in Christ alone, he said, “I felt that I had been born again and that the gates of Heaven had been opened. The whole of Scripture gained a new meaning.”
The Gospel is the key that unlocks the Bible and ushers a person into the kingdom of God. The Law tells us what we must do. The Gospel tells us what Christ did on the cross to save us. “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Alexander Carson was ordained in 1955 and was a priest in Alexandria, Louisiana. Carson said, “… the Holy Spirit led me to judge Roman Catholic theology by the standard of the Bible. Previously, I had always judged the Bible by Roman Catholic doctrine and theology.” In order to learn the truth about God’s righteousness, it was necessary for this priest to rely completely upon Scripture as the basis of true theology.
Do you rely completely upon Scripture, or is your religious organization more important to you than the Gospel? Whether your religious affiliation is Protestant, Catholic, or something else, the Gospel (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-8) stands head and shoulders above your particular religious organization.
Religious traditions do not cover a sinner with the righteousness of Christ. This covering for sin only takes place when a person places their faith in the sacrifice Christ made on the cross 2,000 years ago. It was a one-time sacrifice. Paul wrote, “We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the Law” (Romans 3:28). “All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10). That is, those who rely upon their own righteousness in order to enter Heaven are under a curse and on the road to Hell.
The “righteousness from God” (Romans 3:21) is the only righteousness that can justify a sinner. Christians are saved on the front end of their relationship with Christ, before they have done even one good work. Christ’s righteousness is what produces good works in the life of a believer. God only accepts the good works of those who are already righteous in His eyes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Am I doing good works in a vain attempt to earn forgiveness and be saved, or am I doing good works because I have already been saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone? I hope you recognize the vast difference between man’s righteousness and God’s righteousness, and why only Christ’s righteousness can save your soul.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
(Check out my CP op-ed, “A Proposal for Catholics and Protestants.”)
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.
Source: Christian Post
“Any doctrine claiming to be based on the Bible must be carefully checked against the Bible — an option open to anyone who knows God’s Word. Relying upon one supposed biblical expert for an evaluation of the opinions of another would be going in circles. No matter whose opinion one accepted, the end result would be the same; one would still be held hostage to human opinion. Each individual must personally check out all opinions directly from the Bible.” Dave Hunt – What Love Is This? p.25